Justice Integrity Project
A prize-winning Swedish journalist noted for his left-wing, pro-NATO and anti-WikiLeaks commentary was revealed this month to have been a paid agent of Säpo, his nation's security service.
Martin Fredriksson, shown in a file photo and a winner of a major investigative reporting prize in 2014 for his work exposing right-wing groups opposed to NATO, has been secretly paid for years by Säpo, the Swedish Security Service, according to news reports based on his own admissions.
In deep intrigue that resembles a spy novel, Fredriksson's story undermines conventional wisdom on both sides of the Atlantic that journalists work independently from power centers, including government agencies.
Also, the tale is timely, especially because of Sweden's ongoing persecution of Wikileaks Founder Julian Assange and new revelations by that transparency advocacy group involving Democratic presidential front-runner Hillary Clinton and the Obama administration.
Authorities have targeted Assange (shown in a file photo) for what appears to be a trumped up sex scandal probe that has extended for nearly six years, apparently in reprisal for massive and ongoing disclosures by WikiLeaks of Western governments' dark secrets.
More generally, United States and NATO pressures upon European leaders are tainting the latter's carefully nurtured images of independence.
Sweden, which has long boasted of an official position of neutrality in world affairs and close adherence to humanitarian and democratic principles under a rule of law, has already hurt its image by its pursuit of Assange. The fallout includes a ruling last month by a United Nations panel that Assange's political asylum in Ecuador's embassy in London since June 2012 to avoid extradition amounts to “arbitrary detention” under international law.
The Indicter, a start-up global human rights commentary site, underscored in columns March 6 and 13 the sinister implications of the revelations, especially the seemingly odd mixture of Fredriksson's advocacy against Assange and in favor of NATO. The Indicter revealed, for example, that Fredriksson used his clout to lobby for Amnesty International opposition to Assange.
The Indicter's editor is Marcello Ferrada de Noli, Ph.D., shown at left, and a longtime Swedish medical school professor and leader of Swedish Doctors for Human Rights. He drew on disclosures March 2 about Fredriksson in SVD (Svenska Dagbladet, or Swedish Daily) to illustrate a broader theme: that Swedish officials and thought leaders defer far more to the United States and authoritarian policies than commonly understood in liberal democracies, including Sweden.
Sweden's highly irregular investigation of Assange illustrates his thesis.
Ecuador granted Assange political asylum in its London embassy three and half years ago to protect him from a relentless effort by Swedish authorities to extradite him for questioning over rape and sexual assault allegations arising from two affairs he undertook from invitations by women attending his featured speech at an August 2010 conference in Sweden.
Assange submitted to questioning about the claims from the two women, who had separately invited him to stay with them. Authorities have never charged him with a crime but they have mounted an extraordinary campaign to extradite him to Sweden for further questioning after he left the country.
Assange has denied any criminal violation. Also, he has argued unsuccessfully in British courts that the investigation has been a ruse to extradite him to Sweden so he could then be extradited to the United States to face reported but still-secret U.S. charges. Assange is not subject to extradition directly from Britain to the United States. U.S. charges are reported to arise from WikiLeaks disclosures that severely embarrassed officials in the United States, Britain, Sweden and elsewhere in Western governments and private power centers.
Americans deserve thorough disclosure of the nation’s major assassinations says a new research group at the start of the annual “Sunshine Week” beginning March 13.
As an initial goal, Citizens Against Political Assassinations (CAPA), a non-partisan umbrella group, seeks withheld records pertaining to the assassinations of President John F. Kennedy in 1963 and the Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. and New York Senator Robert F. Kennedy in 1968.
“CAPA seeks release of the remaining JFK records with a minimum of redactions, which can obscure vital information,” said CAPA Chairman Cyril H. Wecht, M.D., J.D., a prominent expert in forensic pathology for five decades.
“We shall also file Freedom of Information Act requests and similar legal actions to enforce the law and undertake public education efforts to show the importance of disclosure to new generations.” Wecht, shown below in his lab, is a world-renowned consultant, medical school professor, author, and former county coroner for two decades in Pennsylvania.
This editor is one of nine CAPA directors along with Wecht, and is also the media liaison for the CAPA announcement, which is timed to coincide with the annual Sunshine Week launched by Florida journalists and then nationally in 2005 by the American Society of Newspaper Editors (ASNE) with funding from the Knight Foundation. The purpose is to advocate for open government and warn against the dangers of excessive secrecy.
In Washington, DC, the National Press Club and Newseum are among the organizations sponsoring events during the week seeking more transparency by government. There are many challenges for the media and the public in obtaining from government information once regarded as routine. For example, the Washington Post reported in its Sunday, March 13 print edition, The federal government no longer cares about disclosing public information.
This editor shares those goals as an active member of more than a half dozen journalism and legal bodies, including the National Press Club's Press Freedom Committee and several other of the largest and oldest journalism bodies, such as SPJ, ASJA, and the Overseas Press Club. But an urgent need exists also for more for targeted advocacy efforts on the topic of assassinations, especially since the major media have proven extremely reluctant to use their influence to report sensitive aspects of major assassinations -- much less lobby for additional disclosures.
Texas authorities bungled the death investigation last month of Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia and thereby caused needless fears of murder and other scandal, according to a retired high-level police executive speaking at the National Press Club March 9.
Authorities should have performed an autopsy and other standard procedures to determine the cause of Scalia's death Feb. 13 at a luxury ranch in West Texas said William O. Ritchie, Jr., a former deputy chief of the Metropolitan Police Department (MPD) in the nation's capital.
"Every death you investigate," Ritchie recalled telling his police subordinates, "is a homicide until proven otherwise."
Ritchie spoke during a press club panel discussion that also featured the two prize-winning Washington Post reporters who revealed that Scalia had been attending without normal security a gathering of an elite, all-male, secretive hunting society.
Reporters Sari Horwitz and Amy Brittain recounted how they unraveled step-by-step that Scalia attended for free over St. Valentine's Day weekend a meeting of the International Order of St. Hubertus -- and that only a few of the 36 guests are known at the five-star Cibolo Creek Ranch
Much of official Washington quickly moved on from the death -- and its poorly sourced rumors of possible murder and other foul play, along with more substantive concerns about professional ethics -- in order to focus on Scalia's legacy and political jousting over his successor.
But the the Justice Integrity Project recruited three experts to discuss circumstances of the death before the press club's McClendon Group, a speaker society for important topics sometimes downplayed because they create discomfort in elite circles.
Chief Ritchie, a former MPD homicide commander, made front page news last month in the Washington Post by criticizing Texas authorities who deferred to Scalia's family and billionaire ranch owner John B. Poindexter by announcing that Scalia, 79, died of "natural causes" without an examination of the body and death scene by trained medical personnel.
Ritchie said the circumstances were "fishy." The U.S. Marshals Service said Scalia had declined a security detail at the Cibolo Creek Ranch owned by Poindexter, shown at right in a photo from his company.
Then the reporters revealed Feb. 24 that Scalia had been attending for free the St. Hubertus gathering along with C. Allen Foster, a prominent Washington lawyer who accompanied the justice on a plane trip to the ranch's private airstrip.
The ranch owner, whose John B. Poindexter Company benefited from last year’s Supreme Court refusal to hear an age bias case against its $140 million annual grossing subsidiary Mic Inc., reported to authorities that he found Scalia’s body in a guest room. News accounts have stated that 36 guests went to the ranch, which is about 30 miles from the Texas-Mexico border. Only a few of their identities are public.
This editor has followed news reports closely since the death although this is our first commentary aside from excerpting others' reports. Investigative reporter Wayne Madsen traveled to the ranch and the El Paso funeral home promptly after the death, phoned us with accounts of his findings, and reported them in exclusive scoops on his daily Wayne Madsen Report, as well as on radio broadcasts for the Alex Jones Infowars radio broadcasts and with commentary elsewhere.
Madsen, an author and former Navy intelligence officer, stayed in one of the $700-a-night rooms at the five-star resort and a took photos of the ghoulish decorations, such as the one at left (used with permission) of a devil-like statuette positioned just a few feet from Scalia's room. This was one of a number of what Madsen reported as satanic-themed art pieces at the resort, with many of them decorating the dining room where Scalia, a devout Catholic, last dined.
Madsen's concerns, like ours at this site and those of the Post reporters, have primarily centered on procedural irregularities in the death investigation and potential ethical concerns when a powerful justice enjoys free and secretive junkets in the company of the elite. The Supreme Court requires only a minimum of disclosure under its opaque and largely self-enforcing ethics rules.
We explored them in depth in a series of columns showing how Associate Justice Clarence Thomas falsified his annual sworn disclosure forms for years to hide, among other things, his wife's money from lobbying, as we reported in Common Cause Files Against Justice Thomas's Wife's Group.
A California parole board this month rejected a dramatic plea to release the convicted slayer of 1968 presidential contender Robert F. Kennedy, thereby continuing one of the nation's most notorious murder cover-ups.
Kennedy friend Paul Schrade, 91, argued that the convicted Sirhan B. Sirhan, firing from Kennedy's front, could not have killed the New York senator in a hotel massacre that left Schrade wounded.
"Kennedy was a man of justice," Schrade told the parole board Feb. 10 in a prepared statement at the Richard J. Donovan Correctional Facility in San Diego, CA.
"But, so far," Schrade continued, "justice has not been served in this case. And I feel obliged as both a shooting victim and as an American to speak out about this — and to honor the memory of the greatest American I’ve ever known, Robert Francis Kennedy."
The board refused to grant clemency despite additional evidence from multiple witnesses and books through the years supporting defense claims that Kennedy (shown in a file photo at left) was killed from the rear.
Today's column begins ramped up coverage here by the Justice Integrity Project of the 1968 assassinations of Robert Kennedy (widely known as "RFK" in news headlines) and the Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. The full text of Schrade's unsuccessful arguments to California's parole board, shown below, provides a powerful new dimension to the historical debate.
This month was the first time Schrade has made such a verbal plea on behalf of a Sirhan, who is widely regarded by researchers (but not publicly by authorities) as a likely victim of mind-control before he fired at Kennedy, who had left a ballroom at the Ambassador Hotel via a hotel kitchen when he was shot.
Sirhan, a former race track exercise jockey who disappeared from his family for many weeks shortly before the shooting, has maintained that he could not remember details of his actions, including repetitious entries in his diary "RFK must die" that defenders describe as a symptom of mind control by unknown perpetrators.
Authorities have kept Sirhan in solitary confinement in essence for more than 45 years while his advocates have unsuccessfully argued for a new investigation or clemency. His most recent parole hearing before this year's was in 2011.
Schrade addressed his remarks in part to Sirhan (shown at right in a prison photo).
"Sirhan, I forgive you," said Schrade, whom Sirhan shot in the forehead in the pantry. Schrade continued:
"The evidence clearly shows you were not the gunman who shot Robert Kennedy."
"There is clear evidence of a second gunman in that kitchen pantry who shot Robert Kennedy," said Schrade. "One of the bullets — the fatal bullet — struck Bob in the back of the head. Two bullets struck Bob literally in his back. A fourth bullet struck the back of his coat’s upper right seam and passed harmlessly through his coat. I believe all four of those bullets were fired from a second gunman standing behind Bob. You were never behind Bob, nor was Bob’s back ever exposed to you."
Also, Schrade presented documents supporting not only his call for Sirhan's release but also his plea for a new official investigation of the 1968 assassination.
Among them was a letter from Robert F. Kennedy Jr. supporting a new, complete investigation of the only known recording of his father's shooting. The 2012 letter, sent by the late senator's second-eldest son to then-U.S. Attorney Gen. Eric Holder, endorsed Schrade's request for a complete FBI analysis of an audiotape recording made by freelance newspaper reporter Stanislaw Pruszynski.
Audio expert Philip Van Praag says the Pruszynski tape -- the only known recording of the Ambassador Hotel gunshots -- captured a total of 13 shots, five more than Sirhan's gun could fire. FBI documents obtained in 2014 through the Freedom of Information Act reveal the Bureau's audio analysts responded to the Kennedy-supported Schrade request for a full examination by conducting only a cursory, inconclusive review of that recording. The FBI failed even to reach out to Van Praag for key information about his findings.
The killing occurred at the Ambassador shortly after the elder Kennedy, 42, was announced as winning California's Democratic presidential primary. The death removed a leading contender who was poised to win the presidency in 1968.
Instead, Republican Richard Nixon (shown at right in an official photo) narrowly defeated Vice President Hubert Humphrey, whose late-starting candidacy was crippled by dissension across the nation and especially within the Democratic Party. Among causes were protests over the Vietnam War waged by the administration of incumbent Democratic President Lyndon B. Johnson and many post-assassination riots in cities after the 1968 assassinations of Kennedy and the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.
This month for the 15th time, California officials denied parole for Sirhan, who was convicted of murder in the first degree during a trial in 1969 and sentenced to death in a gas chamber before separate legal decisions abolished the death penalty in California.
An Associated Press photo by Gregory Bull, who was the pool photographer for the nation's media, shows Schrade's reaction to this month's proceedings.
Schrade, a former United Auto Workers official and friend to Kennedy, is far from alone in his belief in Sirhan's innocence in killing Robert Kennedy, even if Sirhan shot Schrade. At least a dozen books dating back nearly five decades have attacked the investigation and verdict.
"The man convicted of the crime could not possibly have done it," wrote best-selling authors Richard Belzer and David Wayne, for example, in their 2013 book Hit List: An In-Depth Investigation Into the Mysterious Deaths of Witnesses to the JFK Assassination., a successor to their 2012 book on the topic Dead Wrong. "Furthermore, he was obviously programmed, as experts have determined."
As the Democratic presidential race next moves to the heavily black electorate in South Carolina, two misleading smears of candidate Bernie Sanders by prominent African-American supporters of Hillary Clinton taint the critics' fairness and that of their institutions.
Washington Post editorial board member Jonathan Capehart and Georgia Congressman John Lewis, a civil rights hero shown in an official photo at right, separately suggested that Sanders had puffed up his 1960s civil rights activism.
The controversies arose as Sanders and Clinton scramble for African-American support in the South Carolina primary Feb. 27 following Clinton's victory in the Nevada caucuses Feb. 20. Looming ahead on March 1 are Super Tuesday contests in 11 states. Most are in the South where, as in South Carolina, much of the Democratic electorate is African-American.
Lewis dissed Sanders Feb. 11 at a news conference called by Congressional Black Caucus Political Action Committee at the Capitol Hill headquarters of the Democratic National Committee,
"I never met him," Lewis said of Sanders, referencing the early 1960s when Lewis led the Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) in courageous civil rights struggles that included the 1965 "Bloody Sunday" march in Selma, Alabama. "But I met Hillary Clinton. I met President Clinton."
Two days later, Lewis had to walk back his remarks by noting that Sanders had been active in the early 1960s, whereas the Clintons had attended high school then and Lewis did not meet them until the 1970s.
Also on Feb. 11, Capehart published a Washington Post column Stop sending around this photo of ‘Bernie Sanders,' citing Randy Ross, the widow of former Chicago student Bruce Rappaport, as saying her late husband was the man shown standing in a photo (below) that the Sanders' campaign had been using to illustrate the presidential candidate's commitment to civil rights.
Both Sanders and Clinton have refrained from comment, thereby standing above the battle.
But the controversy shows the deceptive tactics of candidate surrogates and media organizations in seeking a competitive edge for Clinton, the establishment candidate.
More dramatically, a much-honored photographer and civil rights figure, Danny Lyon, stepped forward to set the record straight.
1960s Civil Rights Student Activist
As a student at the University of Chicago, Sanders led a chapter of the Congress on Racial Equality (CORE) in sit ins that protested the university's tacit support of segregated student housing in its Hyde Park locale surrounded by black neighborhoods. Sanders also participated in the famed 1963 March on Washington led by famed civil rights leaders, including the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.
The University of Chicago has long identified Sanders as the man standing in the 1962 photo. Lyon, a photographer for the Maroon student newspaper, shot the photo and went on to become the official photographer for SNCC in pioneering civil rights activism.
Capehart is a contributor on MSNBC, whose host Chris Matthews presented the controversy as if it were a major campaign scandal that implied devious tactics by the Sanders camp just as the Vermont senator was trying to win African-American support following his strong showings in the white-dominated states of New Hampshire and Iowa.
If Sanders had falsely puffed up his civil rights record it would have been one of the worst possible introductions to the heavily black Democratic primary audiences in the South.
But the photographer Lyon stepped forward to confirm that Sanders was the man standing in the photo. Lyon denounced Capehart for shoddy reporting.
The photo, along with a similar one shown on the next page of this column, is courtesy of the Danny Lyon/Special Collections Research Center, University of Chicago Library).
The Lyon statement, confirmed by his release last week of his "contact sheets" of images when he was developing his images for the university's student newspaper, casts a poor light on Capehart, as well as his newspaper and cable colleagues at the Washington Post and MSNBC.
As one dimension, the website Men's Trait reported in Pro-Clinton Columnist In Bed With Clinton Staffer — Literally that the pundit has been been living for years with a Clinton staffer.
True, such conflicts of interest between journalists and political advocates are common in Washington and other media centers, and are rarely revealed.
But it's Capehart's bad luck that his factually inaccurate smear during a presidential race elevates his questionable behavior into news, as here.
The most raucous and otherwise remarkable debate in modern presidential history took place Feb. 13 in South Carolina — and seems likely to lead to a stunning victory for front-runner Donald Trump in the state's primary Feb. 20.
Trump — by insulting several of his rivals and GOP eminences as well as most of the audience — managed to surpass even his own unmatched record among major contenders for contrarian positions that have confounded his establishment opponents.
Yet nearly all instant polls showed him as winning the debate. A Drudge poll (albeit unscientific) showed him winning 53 percent of the 650,000+ votes cast by 11 p.m. Sunday. Eleven other polls assembled by the Conservative TreeHouse site showed Trump winning, at least initially. Details: Who do you think won the Republican Debate tonight?
Even a more scientific poll by CBS, the moderator of the debate at the Peace Center auditorium in Greenville, SC, showed Trump finishing second with 24 percent to Marco Rubio, who polled 32 percent in a sample of 601 persons in the overnight poll.
Out of all the polling since the presidential race began last spring, these results carry special significance as a predictor of how the South Carolina and national GOP contests will play out.
Even though the polls drew from national and not state samples, they seem to indicate that Trump did not seriously hurt himself and none of his five remaining opponents (with the possible exception of Rubio) helped himself significantly.
That's great news for Trump, who currently leads polling in South Carolina by 42 to 20 for Ted Cruz and 15 percent for Rubio in a CBS poll released Feb. 14. Nationally, Trump also leads by large margins over his GOP rivals, although the margin is single digits over Cruz for the most part.
Even better for Trump than the margins, the specifics of the next stage of the race and of his rivals' vulnerabilities enhance his strengths further.
In essence, all of Trump's rivals have major weaknesses at least in the short term. Several are being accused of scandalous behavior, as examined below. Yet none are likely to drop out before the South Carolina primary, which will be regarded as a predictor for the 11-state March 1 votes, most of them in the South.
This is likely to split the anti-Trump vote and deny his rivals a chance for victory in this crucial next phase of the campaign. In the modern era of primaries, no GOP presidential candidate has ever won the party nomination without winning a contest in Iowa, New Hampshire or South Carolina.